Kurt Helin

LeBron James sets up college scholarship program for at-risk Akron youth

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LeBron James was once an at-risk youth growing up in Akron, Ohio. However, he had options to change his life’s course thanks to his physical gifts and skills as a basketball player.

Now he’s helping give youth growing up on those same streets some options.

LeBron teamed up with the University of Akron to set up potential college scholarships for approximately 1,000 young people in the Akron public school system working with James’ foundations’ “I Promise” program (and other programs).

He announced it this week, reports the Associated Press.

“It’s the reason I do what I do,” said James, who announced the program Thursday while hosting an event for students at Cedar Point Amusement Park. “These students have big dreams, and I’m happy to do everything I can to help them get there. They’re going to have to earn it, but I’m excited to see what these kids can accomplish knowing that college is in their futures.”

The school and the LeBron James Family Foundation are still finalizing the criteria for the scholarships. The students will have to graduate high school within Akron’s public school system and achieve standard testing requirements as well as fulfill a community service obligation….

“It means so much because, as a kid growing up in the inner city and a lot of African-American kids, you don’t really think past high school,” said James, who bypassed college to jump to the NBA. “You don’t really know your future. You hear high school all the time, and you graduate high school and then you never think past that because either it’s not possible or your family’s not financially stable to even be able to support a kid going to college.”

James’ foundation is focused on trying to raise the graduation rate in Akron. It has programs for mentoring and tutoring at-risk youth in danger of falling out of school (due to issues in their homes, attendance concerns or a host of other reasons). The foundation was setting a path to graduation; now there is potentially a next step after it.

The university will pay for the scholarships (currently valued at $9,500 a year), LeBron’s foundation will set the path to get those scholarships and work to keep the youth in the program on that path, which starts with the class of 2021.

Who knows how many of the youth will take advantage of this opportunity, but LeBron and the university are going to change some lives. LeBron is playing for his legacy on the court at this point in his career, but he is shaping one off the court in Akron as well that is very impressive.

Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills not impressed with New Zealand Haka dance (VIDEO)

Australian Boomers v New Zealand Tall Blacks - Game 1
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It is more impressive when New Zealand’s rugby team does it.

Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova – two guys who went hard just a couple of months back on opposite sides of the NBA Finals — stood arm-in-arm with Patty Mills and the rest of their Australian teammates and were unimpressed with the native Haka dance the All Blacks did before their match Saturday.

Australia and New Zealand are playing a two-game series for the championship of FIBA’s Oceana region — the winner qualifies for the 2016 Olympics (joining the USA and Brazil as locked in the 12-team tournament).

Dellavedova helped settle a nervous home Australian team down in the second quarter on his way to 15 points on the night. Mills was making plays late and had 17 for the game. Australia won 71-59.

Game 2 of the series is Tuesday in New Zealand and it is scored in aggregate — if Australia wins or loses by 11 points or fewer they will advance to the Olympics.

Hat tip Eye on Basketball.

Watch top 100 plays from last NBA season

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What else are you going to do on an August Sunday? I mean, besides going out in the sun or spending time with friends and family.

Here is more than 20 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by our fine friends at NBA.com.

Giannis Antetokounmpo drops 13 points in 14 minutes for Greece (VIDEO)

Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers
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EuroBasket tips off in a couple of weeks, and for NBA teams that can be a double-edged sword. On one side, there is the risk of injury (different international event, but think Dante Exum).

On the other side, for guys that could use more development, it’s a chance to get on the court and play at a relatively high level of competition, with good coaching.

The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is trying to take advantage of the latter. In a friendly against Bosnia, the Greek dropped 13 points in just 14 minutes of action. He had three rebounds and three blocks as well. Since I’m guessing you didn’t stream this live, above are some highlights.

Hat tip Sportando.

 

Kobe Bryant brings D’Angelo Russell around on who is the GOAT

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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From the first moments after the Los Angeles Lakers took him with the No. 2 pick, D’Angelo Russell has been singing the praises of Kobe Bryant. But Kobe is not his only idol, and Russell tweeted out this:

You knew Kobe wasn’t going to let that slide.

It took all of six minutes for Russell to start backpedaling.

Kobe let the rookie off the hook. At least in public.

Shock the world? For the Lakers that would be making the playoffs with this roster.